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Monday, July 25, 2011
Mack Brown defends, dishes on network

By Jeff Caplan



DALLAS -- Mack Brown congratulated Texas president Bill Powers and athletic director DeLoss Dodds for pulling off a partnership with ESPN and college football he didn't think they really could, yet "was available to everybody."

As for the Longhorn Network potentially providing Texas advantages in recruiting and other areas, Brown didn't seem to quibble: "That's a real positive for us at the University of Texas and I'm proud that they did it. I'm glad we have that advantage."

On the controversial topic of airing high school football games that has raised the neck hairs of coaches and athletic directors across the Big 12 concerned about a drastic recruiting advantage for Texas, Brown supplied a different sort of take. For now, airing of high school games is on hold.

"I think the people that would be hurt if you don't show high school games will be the high school coach, the players, who 99 percent will not even play college football,"  Brown said. "Those would be the ones -- the communities in Texas that couldn't showcase their program. So, I would hate if that works that way. But, I know from a compliance standpoint we would never be able to say who to put on or we wouldn't be able to comment on it. None of that would change, but I hope there is an opportunity, because ESPN does high school football games in the state of Texas anyway. And, my gosh, the Big 12 is full of Texas high school football players."

Brown said that since most of the players in Texas' recruiting classes will "probably be committed to us before June in their junior year," that televising high school games "will [not] have any effect on recruiting at all. I think the part that will effect recruiting is you've got a lot more opportunities for young people to be seen."

Not every aspect of the Longhorn Network's partnership with ESPN excites Brown. He cited several instances in the early programming planning stages that alarm him.

"They're [ESPN] paying us $300 million for access and we've got to figure out how much access we can give them and not hurt our chance to have an edge to win the game," Brown said. "Dave Brown [vice president from programming on the network] called me mid-summer and said, 'We want to have your first scrimmage on live. Everybody's going to want to see it.'

"And I said, 'Yeah, Oklah0ma, A&M, Kansas, Texas Tech, they're going to be sitting there grading our practice as we do it. We can't do that.'

"On a day-to-day basis, they want to have some live practice, and I'm thinking a young man gets hurt on live TV, it's not like you can say, 'Hold that tape.' So, there's a lot of things. It's like an extra job for us and our sports information department and ESPN because we've all got to figure out what it means."